In the United States, over 60 percent of all households include at least one pet. Collectively, we own over 160 million pets in the U.S.; although, if you ask a pet lover they will tell you they don’t “own” their pet. Instead, their pet is considered a non-human member of the family. If you are among the millions of pet lovers in the U.S. you undoubtedly want to protect your non-human family members in the event of your death or incapacity. The way to do that is to include your non-human family members in your estate plan.
Have you ever considered what will happen to your dog, cat, or other family pet if something happens to you? Sadly, over 500,000 dogs and cats end up homeless, or worse, every year in the U.S. because something happened to their human owner. Whether they are intentionally abandoned or unintentionally overlooked, the bottom line is that all these dogs and cats were once part of a family; however, their human family members forgot to plan for them as they likely did for other members of the family. The good news is that preventing your family pet from become a statistics is easy to do.
Including your pet in your estate plan can be accomplished fairly easily. Although there are several ways in which to include your pet in your estate plan, a pet trust is one of the most popular options, predominantly because of the protection it offers for you and your pet. A pet trust allows you to appoint a Trustee to manage trust assets and administer the trust. The Trustee can be the same person who will take over the daily care of your pet but does not have to be the same person. In addition, you have the ability to include trust terms that can dictate everything from what food your pet will eat to which vet your pet will treat with and anything else you feel is important. Because a trust agreement is a legal document, the Trustee is required to ensure that the trust terms are honored. Finally, you can use your pet trust to ensure that sufficient funds are left for the care of your pet without worrying about how those funds will be spend once you are gone.
If you have a family pet that you wish to protect, contact the experienced Missouri estate planning attorneys at Amen, Gantner & Capriano, Your Estate Matters, LLC by calling (314) 966-8077 to schedule an appointment to discuss incorporating a pet trust into your estate plan.